Francois Hollande: The next president of France

Paris, May 7: Socialist Party leader Francois Hollande who defeated incumbent president Nicolas Sarkozy in Sunday’s decisive presidential runoff in France, has never held a government post at the national level.

The bespectacled Hollande will be the second left-wing president, after Francois Mitterrand, founder of the French Socialist Party, served two seven-year terms as president from 1981.

He is regarded by many as an affable moderate whose quiet — some even say dull – manner contrasts sharply with the intensity and glamour of conservative president Sarkozy, BBC reported.

The new president-elect was born Aug 12, 1954 in the northwestern city of Rouen. His father was a doctor.

He has educational diplomas from Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales de Paris (HEC), Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris (Sciences Po) and Ecole nationale d’administration (ENA), all elite universities in France, according to Xinhua.

Having been active in student politics, he joined the Socialist party in 1979 and played a junior role as an economic adviser in the Mitterrand presidency.

He served as the first secretary of the Socialist Party from 1997 to 2008, and was mayor of Tulle from 2001 to 2008, as well as a member of parliament since 1988 from the southwestern region of Correze.

He succeeded Lionel Jospin as party leader in 1997, a post he retained for more than a decade.

However, Hollande has never held a government post at the national level, something which bothered voters and cast doubts over his ability to lead the country out of economic crisis.

In his campaign for president, Hollande pledged to fight high unemployment, including hiring 60,000 more teachers in his term in addition to 150,000 state-aided jobs.

He opposed a financial policy solely based on austerity, and planned to open negotiations on the European fiscal pact reached last December by adding new clauses focusing on economic growth and job creation.

The Socialist also proposed a 75-percent tax on those who earn over one million euros ($1.3 million) a year, and an increase on the minimum wage.

On foreign policy, Hollande said he would pull out French troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year, and would only intervene in foreign countries under the UN mandate.

Though criticized by his opponents as moderate and indecisive, Hollande was praised by former conservative president Jacques Chirac as a “true statesman”.

Though far-right leader Marine Le Pen said she would endorse neither candidate, Hollande received endorsement from centrist party leader Francois Bayrou, who came fifth in the first round of polling.

Hollande has four children with Segolene Royal, who failed to challenge Sarkozy in the 2007 election. His companion now is Valerie Trierweiler, a 47-year-old French journalist.

In a recent biography titled “Francois Hollande: The Strength of Mister Nice”, political journalist Marie-Eve Malouines painted a picture of a man with a strong ambition for the top job and yet at the same time one who shies away from conflict, said BBC.

IANS